EVIDENTIAL REASONING: Visible Thinking Routine


What Makes You Say That?

As you know, Socrative is a tool that reports what your students know. However, did you know that Socrative can also provide information on how your students are thinking? For example, after a science lesson, a teacher may use a Socrative quiz to ask, “Will a penny, with a density of 2g/ml float in water?” Based upon the student responses, the teacher will be able to see who responded correctly.Then, she may ask, “Please explain your answer to question 1″.Here’s where another component of student thinking comes in.  Based upon this second round of responses, the teacher will be able to see how her students understand (or misunderstand) the concept of density. Using Socrative will allow her to target any remaining misunderstandings in her ongoing instruction.This type of teaching is based upon research on student thinking at Harvard’s Project Zero. It encourages students to share and explain their perspectives by asking,

  • What’s going on?
  • What do you see?
  • What do you know?
  • What makes you say that?

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Students as Questioners – Bloom’s Taxonomy

“An educated person today is someone who knows the right question to ask.”

Recently, I’ve been repeating this Ernest Boyer quote to myself.  It encapsulates so much in so few words. Many Socrative posts have focused on how teachers can foster discussions and help facilitate problem based thinking, inquiry and the surfacing of main ideas. Consequently, through modeling and drawing student attention to your questions, they are aware of how and why you are asking particular questions.

It’s time to pass the baton to the students and develop their abilities to ask the high quality questions.

Let’s call on our friend Benjamin Bloom for support.  

Bloom’s revised taxonomy is a great asset for making explicit your motivations behind classroom activities, assignments and discussion starters.  Furthermore, it helps build a common language and structure within your classroom.  As history has shown, this well-known, widely applied scheme filled a void and provided educators with one of the first systematic classifications of the processes of thinking and learning. The cumulative hierarchical framework consisting of six categories each requiring achievement of the prior skill or ability before the next, more complex one, remains easy to understand.

Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy

Remembering Retrieving, recognizing, reproducing and recalling relevant knowledge from long-term memory
Understanding Constructing meaning from oral, written, and graphic messages through interpreting, exemplifying, classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, and explaining
Applying Carrying out or using a procedure through executing or implementing
Analyzing Breaking material into constituent parts, determining how the parts relate to one another and to an overall structure or purpose through differentiating, organizing, and attributing
Evaluating Marking judgments based on criteria and standards through checking and critiquing
Creating Putting elements together to form a coherent or functional whole; reorganizing elements into a new pattern or structure through generating, planning, or producing

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See, Think, Wonder – Making Thinking Visible


Harvard’s Project Zero has created learning routines based on research, helping teachers garner a more thorough thinking process from students. See, Think, Wonder, is one such routine that engages students in visual multimedia such as pictures or videos.

Design an Image based quiz focussing on these 3 questions:

1. What do you see?

2. What do you think about that?

3. What does it make you wonder?

Students draw from their own unique perspective, inviting curiosity from their peers. Depending on the teaching need, a single student may answer all three questions at once in a Student Paced Quiz, or the class may work together through the Teacher Paced Quiz option to answer and discuss questions one at a time.

Learn more at www.visiblethinkingpz.org


Week 1 – A Quick Activity to Help Students Learn about their School


There’s always something new at the start of the school year, class rules, whether it is a new freshman class, a new administrator, or a classroom change. Both teachers and students need to get familiar with these changes fast.

In Mr. Roberts’ homeroom, Socrative quizzes with images do the trick.

Who’s who? What’s what?:

Make a Multiple Choice Socrative quiz consisting of questions such as:

1. Who is (insert picture of new staff member or school leader)?

2. Where is the new science room?

3. Who do you ask about your technology questions?

4. Where do you find the lunch schedule?

5. Who is (insert a picture of the maintenance person)?

6. What is our policy on X?

Mr. Roberts runs the activity as a Teacher Paced quiz so he can monitor the student responses, project them for all, and correct any misconceptions. Don’t be surprised if the activity triggers lots of questions!

How do you creatively use Socrative?

1 – 2 – 3 – Word Cloud!

Word Clouds (wordle to most) can be a dynamic tool for visualizing text and for presenting a group’s thinking. They are AMAZING! 

wordle 21st century

While planning for the Future of Learning conference at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, I wanted to capture and share our participants’ views on “What are the key features of 21st Century Learning”. At first, word clouds didn’t cross my mind because in past experiences I had entered a historical speech, lecture notes or asynchronously generated google docs.  All these use cases would be ineffective for our needs.  But then it dawned on me, Socrative could aggregate our real-time responses.  Of course!

Here’s the system.

1. Identify a question which will generate responses for your particular needs.*

  • What are the key features of 21st century learning? (reflected in the above word cloud)
  • Which vocabulary words are giving you difficulty?
  • List 5 key words from the chapter you just read.
  • What 3 adjectives best describe this sculpture?
  • What are synonyms and antonyms of _______?

* have students answer in all lower case so there is consistency in the word cloud.


2. Initiate a Short Answer or Quiz.

  • A Short Answer question’s responses will populate your teacher screen.  
  • A Quiz may include many questions and the results will be available to view as a googledoc or an emailed Excel file.


3. Highlight all the answers and copy them.

  • Short Answer – highlight and copy the responses on the teacher screen.
  • Quiz – highlight and copy the column of the question you want to visualize.


4. Paste into a Word Cloud maker

  • Wordle  – The most well-known word cloud tool.  It’s easy to use and quickly adaptable to help you find the colors, fonts, sizes and arrangements to suit your taste.
  • Tagxedo – Tagxedo allows users to create clouds in various forms, such as Abe Lincoln’s head, triangles or the outlines of countries.
  • Wordsift – You can further highlight words by subjects such as social studies or science.  Developed as an ELL resource at Stanford.
  • ABCya! – Word clouds for kids!
  • Word Collage – an App for iPads


Share your ideas!

Review and Co-Construct Class Rules of Conduct

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Every classroom and every teacher has different rules about acceptable behaviors. These can range from technology usage and hand raising to in class chatter. At the beginning of a semester you have an opportunity to review current rules and introduce new ones!

Socrative Short Answer is a great way to ask:

When should you raise your hand?

What do you do when you need to use the bathroom?

What should you do when other students are speaking?

What should you do when the teacher is speaking?

When are you allowed to speak to the person next to you?

When is it okay to use technology?

Let students work in pairs to reflect on acceptable behaviors.

Project the answers onto the board anonymously, so that everyone feels free to participate. Highlight themes and build a collective responsibility to meet everyone’s goals. With Socrative Short Answer,  you can even download a report of the rules at the end of the activity.


With some extra time left in class, you can group students into teams, assigning a rule to each. Every group makes a poster that represents the rule using diagrams, words, or pictures. Each student then presents their poster and hangs them on the wall to refer to for the next few weeks.

Create Virtual Time Capsules for 2016/17

Time Capsule

In third grade, my classmates and I brought a wide range of items to school that signified the time in which we were living.  There was a black Sony walkman with padded headphones, a GI Joe figure, a Hartford Courant newspaper, a copy of Shel Silverstein’s poem “Messy Room” and a video cassette of Goonies. Yes, 1986 was a glorious time. At the end of the school year we all stood around a big hole behind school and buried our keepsakes so that they might be unearthed by a future generation.
My daydreaming about this fond memory sparked an idea.

Weekly VIRTUAL Time Capules

The process of selecting an item to put in a class time capsule helps students to form an idea of the overarching thought or feeling of the time, it necessitates decision-making and it creates an indelible memory (as my experience at Martin Elementary did!)
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Socrative PRO has launched








The countdown is over for the launch of the new premium version of our classroom engagement app, Socrative! Users from around the world have already jumped on board to be the first to experience the new functionality.

Socrative PRO gives you everything you love about the free app plus a heap of awesome new features to help you personalize learning, amp up engagement, and work formative assessment magic. Thinking about upgrading? Here’s five reasons why you’ll love Socrative PRO.

Multiple Rooms

Each Socrative PRO account allows you to have 10 unique activity rooms. Run quizzes, polls, exit tickets, or Space Races at the same time to better manage multiple classes, remote and blended learning, and differentiated instruction. Create a room for each of your classes, divide students into groups, or assign homework activities—or do it all!

More Students

Large class, PTA meeting, or district-wide training on the horizon? No problem. You can accommodate up to 150 students in Socrative PRO rooms. With three times the student capacity of the free app, Socrative PRO is perfect for conferences, professional development, and grade-level assessments.

Secure Rostering

Save time and energy by uploading class rosters straight from a CSV or Excel file  into Socrative PRO (or enter rosters manually, if you’d prefer). Restrict access to your rostered classrooms by requiring students to enter their personal ID number. And students will save time; they’re only required to enter their ID once into rostered rooms for immediate and future access.

Space Race Timer

Set the timer to have your Space Race end automatically. You can then more freely move around the classroom to answer questions, listen to students, and interact with the class.

More Features Coming this Fall

We’ll be rolling out new premium features to Socrative PRO users in the coming months. What should you expect? Well, instant quiz sharing, a searchable quiz community, and a silent hand raise feature—just to name a few. And you’ll soon get the ability to upload your own icon for a personalized Space Race experience (what will you race?!?).

Whether you’re a seasoned Socrative aficionado or you’re just discovering the formative assessment app, you’ll want to check out all the great new features you’ll get when you upgrade to Socrative PRO.

Back-Channeling with Socrative

What’s a Back Channel? Through a virtual room such as those available in Socrative, students may pose questions or comments regarding the material at hand in real-time, which the teacher may use to drive teaching and discussion. Classroom collaboration thus extends beyond segments of teaching followed by discussion, seamlessly melding the two, fostering participation and engagement.  Often done silently, it helps maintain class control while igniting and furthering collaboration.

Socrative short answer as a Back Channel!

Mr Vernon, a 6th grade Earth Science teacher wants to engage students during his overview lecture on plate tectonics. However, he has a lot of material to cover in a short amount of time. He turns to Socrative Short Answer to create a backchannel room so that students may submit questions throughout class.  It’s preset at anonymous but he likes to turn on the name feature for added accountability and the opportunity to directly support individual students. He also allows students to submit multiple times.

He asks students to “Surface questions or comments about this material”

In the last fifteen minutes of class, Mr. Vernon projects the questions and comments on the board and answers those that are the most common. Students learn what their peers are thinking and can compare it to their own understanding.  Mr. Vernon appreciates how he can clear up any areas of misunderstanding before the class ends.  In addition, he often adjusts homework as a result. Lastly, he downloads the Socrative report and reflects after class on how he could improve upon his class for next time.


Uncovering and Connecting Passions: Thinking Routine

everything is possibleCapturing and uncovering the passion and intrinsic motivation of 21st century learners is difficult.  The tools students utilize in their free time are often not allowed in schools and the speed of change is whizzing by us. Furthermore, the divide between school activities and home life pursuits is often extreme.  More and more students are asking the question “why do I need to know this”.

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